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Question DetailsAsked on 9/5/2015

Use water from well while irrigation is not on

I have a private well supporting irrigation system only. It is on every day from 5-7 pm to supply 10 zone irrigation system. There is a bib next to the well. A dump question. How to utilize the water from the well while irrigation system is off? The system is controlled by Hunter Pro-C.

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3 Answers


The only dumb question is the one you should have asked but did not, and then get into a problem because of it.

If the pump is controlled by the irrigation system, then you would have to either manually turn the irrigation system on to run the pump, or have the pump wiring rerigged so the irrigation controller does not control it.

I would guess, far more likely, that the pump is always "on", and will turn on anytime the pressure in the piping drops below its setpoint. If that is the case, during the irrigation system "off" cycle if water comes out of the hose bib (at pressure) you are good to go and the pump will turn on and off depending on demand. This assumes a dowhole submersible pump or a jet pump. If you have a surface mounted pump (shallow well) that hose bib may be just a drain xxxx to drain the suction line to the pump - in which case when you open it there will not be pressure. If not under pressure when you open it just a bit, close immediately so you don't drain down the suction line to the pump. IF you have pressure initially put then goes dry, close again - would be the pressure line from a jet pump down to the well - the other of the two pipes coming from the well would be the "use" line. Lines should be labelled at the pump connection point - like "Jet Line" and "Water" or "To Well" and "From Well". With a jet pump, one line (the jet line) would go only to the well, the other (coming from the well) would typically be larger diameter, and would have a stub off to the pump but would also continue on to the demand point, so as long as you are on the line going to the controller you should be good with a jet pump.

Double check that there is a backflow preventer or air breaker on the irrigation system to prevent backflow into the well. Also, if the well is ONLY for irrigation (not the house) then the system was probably not disinfected for consumptive uses, so the water may not be safe to wash or drink with (assuming the groundwater itself is safe), so before using for household washing/drinking/cooking uses I would have the well water tested for basic potable water quality (about $100-150 test series) and the well and piping disinfected by a Wells and Pumps contractor for typically a couple of hundred $ more.

If just talking about using for yard watering, car washing, etc should be fine without disinfecting unless your groundwater is known to be contaminated with septic tank or famr waste or such. A simple fecal coliform test for about $75 at a water quality lab (for "official" test) or for about $15 with a do-it-yourself test would give you an idea if you have that problem - if is contaminated, then you should not use for anything with installing a disinfection system, because even with the irrigation system you would be spreading haxardous biologic contamination onto the vegetation and yard.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Thanks LCD. You are always very helpful.

I did double check the pump. It is only on from 5-7 while irrigation system is on. I tried to turn on the bib at other times. No water comes out. Am i missing something?

Answered 3 years ago by shiyang100


Assuming there is pressure at the hose bib during the irrigation system "on" time so you know that is a "live" line, then three choices as I see it:
1) when you want to use water for other purposes, turn on the irrigation system - most controllers have a MANUAL on/off switch. Course, that means the sprinklers also run when you want hose water. 2) if there is a separate available connection from the controller (looks like you probably have 12 zones available, 10 in use), AND your controller allows for manually turning on only one zone at a time, then hook your hose up to that connection (may need a pipe to hose adapter for a couple of bucks at sprinkler or plumbing store or home improvement box store department) and manually trigger that zone only - or if does not allow single-zone manual on/off, set the timer tab for that zone for the time you want it available for use. Do NOT hook directly to the controller or manifold - too easy to break off - use a length of pipe or hose leading to it to hook and unhook the hose from, or at least if hooking hose directly to it use a pipe clamp to asten to the house around the hose so if the hose gets pulled hard it does not pull on and break the controller connection. (Good thing to do with garden hoses too, to avoid damaging hose bibs). 3) trace the pump wiring and find out where it taps off the controller, and get it rewired (probably by a well and pump contractor) so it can run any time there is demand on it. ====== Here is manufacturer PDF file with the manual for that model controller - assuming there was only one version of the Pro-C. That unit advertises it has a one-step test or manual on/off any station/zone, so just hooking up the hose as an 11th zone and using that feature might be the easiest for you. I do not see a remote pump controller feature on it, but does have a landscape lighting control capability, so it may be that someone got smart and hooked that to a relay (unlikely to be able to handle full direct pump power demand) to activate power to the pump only when the irrigation system is on, to avoid the pump cycling just to keep pressure up the rest of the day. If you tap off the controller for the hose two things of note - if you have to winterize your system the hose will also be out of service during that timeframe. Also, don't forget to remove the hose when the system is winterized so you don't pressure up the controller with the expanding water. Also, controllers usually do not allow full flow through them, so your flow through the hose might be less than if connected directly to a hose bib. All else fails - assuming you have a go-to company for your irrigation system repairs (or check AL using Search the List in the category Lawn Irrigation for one), have them or a Wells and Pumps contractor figure out how it works and if they can put in a manual override on the pump power for you.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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